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In Re Marriage of Weinstein

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 18, 1984.

IN RE MARRIAGE OF JAMES N. WEINSTEIN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, AND FRANCES S. WEINSTEIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Willard Lassers, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE ROMITI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Frances S. Weinstein (Frances) appeals from the judgment of the Cook County circuit court which dissolved her marriage to James N. Weinstein (James) and distributed the couple's marital property and from the court's denial of her post-judgment motions to reopen proofs. She raises three issues for our review:

1. Whether the trial court erred in excluding expert testimony of the value of James' osteopathy degree and his license to practice surgery, offered by Frances on the grounds, inter alia, that she had a property interest therein;

2. Whether the trial court committed reversible error in finding that Frances' jewelry was marital property;

3. Whether the trial court committed reversible error in denying Frances' motion to reopen proofs to show that she had lost her job, that James was about to enter the job market as a surgeon, and that he had breached an out-of-court agreement to obtain a Jewish divorce.

We find Frances' arguments on each issue unpersuasive, and affirm the trial court's judgment and order.

James and Frances were married on July 15, 1973, and separated on November 12, 1981. There were no children as a result of the marriage. James filed his petition for dissolution of marriage on December 10, 1981, and Frances her counterpetition for dissolution on December 9, 1982. The trial court granted Frances' petition and distributed the couple's marital assets on May 16, 1983. Testimony and evidence produced at the hearings before the court revealed the following pertinent facts.

At the time of their marriage James was 23 years old and Frances was 21. James had completed one year of study toward a master's degree in anatomy; Frances had received a bachelor's degree and had begun a career in retailing. During their marriage, James continued his studies while Frances held retail positions at Albert K, a women's clothing store chain. Essentially, James' parents paid for his tuition and related educational expenses, and Frances' salary was used for the couple's common living expenses. The record indicates that James pursued his academic endeavors full-time from 1973 to 1977. He graduated from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in June 1977 and interned for a year at Chicago Osteopathic Hospital. He then received his Doctor of Osteopathy license and began a residency in orthopedic surgery at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, earning a yearly salary of approximately $22,000. At the time of the court's hearings, he was to complete this residency in July 1983 and had applied for a grant to the National Institute of Health for a three-year fellowship at a maximum salary of $17,000 per year. No final determination of this application had been made at the time the court dissolved the couple's marriage and distributed the marital estate.

During the period James attended medical school, Frances held retailing positions at Albert K. Her employment record reflected consistent raises in her salary over the previous years, and in the last four to five years prior to the dissolution hearings, Frances had been given increasing responsibilities, culminating in a promotion into the management level of the company. Her gross earnings from this retailing management position were almost $22,000 in 1981 and almost $26,000 in 1982. She stated at the hearing, however, that the advancement potential of the position she held was uncertain because the company had encountered financial difficulties in recent months which had caused it to lay off employees with many more years of experience with the company than she had.

Overall, evidence presented to the trial court indicated that for the years from 1973 to 1977, Frances' earnings totaled approximately $50,000 while James' amounted to roughly $9,000, a good portion of which was earned in the last months of 1977 when James began his internship. From 1977 to the date of the dissolution hearing their earnings were roughly equivalent, with Frances earning slightly more than James.

The trial court found that during the marriage James and Frances were able to accumulate a marital estate valued at almost $120,000. At the time of the hearing the estate consisted of the following:

1. a condominium unit at 1660 North LaSalle Street with a fair market value of $90,000, a mortgage balance of $48,000, and a net equity of $42,000, which they owned as joint tenants;

2. a condominium unit at 1460 North Sandburg Terrace with a fair market value of $86,000, a mortgage balance of $66,524, and a net equity of $19,476; they owned this unit jointly with Frances' parents, and thus had an interest in one half of the net equity, or $9,738;

3. a condominium unit at 5415 North Sheridan Road with a fair market value of $55,500, a mortgage balance of $34,021, and a net equity of $21,479; they owned this unit jointly with Frances' parents, and thus had an interest in one half of the net equity, or $10,740;

4. a Dreyfus money market fund, valued at $34,053 at the time of the couple's separation, of which Frances had spent $7,053 subsequent thereto, for a present value of $27,000;

5. a pension plan owned by Frances with her present employer, with no preset value;

6. Commonwealth Edison stock valued at $2,500;

7. Kansas City Power & Light common stock, valued ...


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